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Robert Walters upgrades forecasts once again after record third quarter performance

The staffing group had already raised the bar once this year and did so again after its third quarter
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Robert Walters said it enjoyed ‘strong’ growth across all of its divisions

Shares in Robert Walters PLC (LON:RWA) zipped higher on Tuesday as the recruiter told investors it expects profits to beat full-year expectations after a record performance in the third quarter.

It’s not the first time Robert Walters has upgraded its expectations: back in July it said profits would come in ahead of forecasts after a solid second quarter.

READ: Robert Walters upgrades guidance after record second quarter

The staffing group reported a gross profit of £90.7mln for the three months ended 30 September, a 22% increase on the £74.4mln it posted for the same period in 2016.

UK still hiring

Like most of its industry peers, Robert Walters saw a dip in hiring from UK firms in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, but that trend started to reverse at the turn of the year and has continued ever since.

UK net fee income jumped 15% in the quarter, with legal and technology recruitment seeing the highest activity levels.

Interestingly London wasn’t the main driver of that growth, with St Albans – again – and Manchester the “standout performers”.

Reaping rewards from global diversification

Given Brexit and everything else going on at the moment, the company has diversified away from the UK and that move continues to pay dividends.

Its European arm put in another “outstanding” performance, with total gross profits from the region jumping by almost a third. Unlike the UK there were no sectors that stood out with the growth instead “broad-based”.

There was a record performance in New Zealand which helped Asia Pacific net fee income to climb 14%, while North America delivered the strongest growth outside of those regions.

FY profit guidance raised again

"The group has delivered another quarter of record results with net fee income growing 21% year-on-year,” said chief executive Robert Walters.

“All of the group's geographic regions grew net fee income strongly and growth was broad based across permanent, contract, interim and recruitment process outsourcing.”

He added: "The board is therefore confident that profit before tax for the full year will be ahead of current market expectations."

At the end of the period the company had net cash f £12.6mln, although this is lower than the £18.6mln it had in the bank this time last year.

Shares rose 6.3% to 580p in early trades on Tuesday .

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